Sir, Dominic Kennedy's article ("MPs accuse courts of allowing libel tourism", Dec 18) highlights the growth of libel tourism, which is making a mockery of Britain's reputation as a haven for free speech. Increasingly, rich and powerful public figures from all over the world have been targeting the British courts as a means to prevent scrutiny of their affairs. As a result, journalists, authors and dissidents are being muzzled because they cannot afford to take the risk of punitive damages and costs orders.
It appears that the Human Rights Act has been a powerful weapon in the hands of those seeking to protect themselves from scrutiny. It will be a terrible irony if this Act, which has done so much to enshrine the rights of the individual, should destroy our great tradition of tolerance of dissent.
Dominic Kennedy refers to a Government consultation on libel and the internet, and the high costs of defamation proceedings. It is to be hoped that our politicians will be willing to stand up for the public right to criticise them and other public figures. In the interim, it is time for the judges, who have risen to the challenge of the Human Rights Act in so many other fields of the law, to take the lead in redressing the balance between the rights of the elite and the public as a whole.